Monday 15 April 2024

Germany thwarts terror plot: Teenage suspects reportedly planned attacks on churches

Security stepped up around Christmas celebrations in Germany and Austria

German authorities have reported the arrest of four suspects allegedly planning terror attacks in Germany. 

According to Bild newspaper, the group intended to target Christians attending church services and police stations with knives and Molotov cocktails.

The Düsseldorf public prosecutor’s office revealed that the suspects, who are between 15 and 16 years old, were apprehended over the Easter weekend.

“The suspects are strongly suspected of having planned an Islamist-motivated terrorist attack and of having agreed to commit it,” authorities stated, as reported by CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

The arrests were conducted following an investigation by the Public Prosecutor General’s Office and the anti-terror unit, ZenTer NRW. North Rhine-Westphalia’s interior minister, Herbert Reul, detailed the case at a press conference in Düsseldorf on Thursday, noting that the suspected terror plans were “quickly and purposefully thwarted.”

Reul mentioned that it took only five days from the initial findings by German security authorities to the arrest. “We succeeded in preventing worse things from happening,” he stated, as quoted by FAZ newspaper.

These arrests are not isolated incidents. In November 2023, two teenagers, aged 15 and 16, were arrested on suspicion of terrorism. They reportedly sympathized with the Islamic State and were believed to have planned a Christmas market attack using a vehicle, CNA Deutsch reported.

In December and early January, several of Europe’s most renowned cathedrals, including those in Cologne and Vienna, were on high alert due to concerns about a planned attack for New Year’s Eve. 

Authorities detained but later released three suspects; the men were reportedly members of the Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K), the same group linked to the March 25 Moscow concert hall attack.

In July 2023, German police arrested seven members of an alleged Islamist terror cell in the same region. 

According to public broadcaster ZDF, similar arrests were made simultaneously in the Netherlands. 

The men of Tajik and Turkmen origin reportedly traveled to Western Europe via Ukraine.